Graeme McDowell admits he never thought his move to LIV Golf would be criticised to the extent it has been, with the Northern Irishman revealing that he’s even received death threats since making the move to the Saudi-backed circuit.
“I don’t wake up and feel proud of myself every day,” McDowell told BBC NI from the JP McManus Pro-Am on Monday.
“I can’t turn on my Instagram or Twitter account without someone telling me to go die. It’s been a really tough couple of months but again, I expected it.
‘No doubt’ players joined new LIV Golf series for money, says Graeme McDowell ⤵️
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) July 4, 2022
“I knew what the consequences were going to be but I didn’t realise just how heavily this was going to be hammered, trying to answer questions which are unanswerable. That’s probably the only mistake I made in London when I was at my press conference. I just wish I had said nothing.”
Indeed, McDowell believes he now finds himself in an impossible fight, revealing that Amnesty International approached him for comment in what he described as a “losing battle” – “How am I supposed to respond to Amnesty International?”
“It’s really hard because I’m being asked questions that there are no right answers to,” McDowell said. “I’m having my moral integrity attacked all the time when at the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is play golf.”
McDowell has come under increasingly hot water more than most since the first LIV Golf event in London last month as he chose to answer questions that many others shirked, ultimately offering such soundbites as; “If Saudi Arabia wanted to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be, and they have the resources to accelerate that experience, I think we are proud to help them on that journey.”
McDowell was a different interviewee on Monday at Adare. It was put to him by BBC NI that a common frustration of many LIV critics is that the players are unwilling to own up to the monetary motivations behind joining the circuit, instead singing the praise of a new team format that’s yet to capture the imagination of golf fans around the world.
“Well it is about the money,” McDowell said. “I think most guys would be happy to say that to you. That’s what the guys are there for, they’re there for the financial opportunity. No doubt about it, no second thoughts, no one will argue that point in a million years, but there is more to what we’re trying to create for the fans.
“54-hole team format, it’s fun, it’s different, but nobody cares about that right now, they only care about the negativity.”
35,000 fans swept through the gates on the opening day at Adare Manor where McDowell carded a one-under 71 to trail Xander Schauffele by seven strokes after the opening day.
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